Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2009 Week 12 Hansard (Wednesday, 14 October 2009) . . Page.. 4438 ..
… the agreements call for a high degree of separation between the hospitals. This has not been achieved, and the lack of clarity and transparency has contributed to difficulties in managing the agreements.
What the Auditor-General is pointing to here is that the very nature of the contractual arrangements leads to this complexity and difficulty. Yet, if you clarify the ownership arrangements, as the government is investigating and putting to the community for discussion, these problems disappear. This is a solution to the problems identified by the Auditor-General and that is a matter which the opposition should have far greater regard to in this place.
The government will not be supporting this motion today. The motion is flawed. The motion attempts to involve the Auditor-General in a way which is completely inappropriate. The motion fails to recognise the detailed public consultation process that is underway, the detailed information that is being provided to the community and the opportunity members of this place would have, should the proposal move to the next stage, to scrutinise it fully.
MS LE COUTEUR (Molonglo) (12.24): Firstly, I would like to agree with my colleague Ms Bresnan and with the government’s contributions about the independence of the Auditor-General. While it may well be that what the Liberal Party are suggesting is in fact legal, it is certainly not, as far as I read it, in the spirit of the Auditor-General Act. The Auditor-General is an independent officer and she makes her own decisions as to what she does or does not inquire into. I think that independence is incredibly important, and one of the last things the Assembly should do is try and compromise that.
The second thing I would like to talk about in terms of the Auditor-General is that, as has been mentioned by Ms Bresnan, the Auditor-General is considerably underfunded. Mr Seselja seemed to think this was the fault of the Greens. I am afraid I have to remind the Liberal Party that the Greens are not yet the government. Maybe next term we will be, and we are obviously hoping to be, but so far we are not, so we do not actually have full responsibility for the Auditor-General’s funding. If you remember the debates at the time, the Greens did speak at some length on the need for more funding for the Auditor-General.
The situation is that the budget was passed with a certain amount of money for the Auditor-General and, with the resources the Auditor-General has got, basically if she does this inquiry something else will have to not be done. Those are the facts of life. We do not have a magic pudding here; we unfortunately have only a government budget which, while large, is not that large. So the issue, partly, is: is this the best use of the Auditor-General’s very limited resources? And I am not at all convinced that it is. The government have said that, obviously, the Auditor-General is not the person to make the decisions, and I think we are all in furious agreement on that: she clearly is not the decision maker.